Monday, 4 July 2011

Messrs. Joshua Tetley & Son

I lived in Leeds for seven years in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Tetley's, especially their Mild, will always have a very special place in my heart. This is my commemoration of the passing of their brewery.

The railway guides produced by  George Measom have proved an unexpected source of brewery descriptions from the middle of the 19th century. The same guide from which this text is taken contains a longer description of Allsopp's brewery in Burton. I'll be annoying you with that soon.

"In noticing the industrial aspect of Leeds, we must not omit mention of the celebrated Brewery Of Messrs. Joshua Tetley and Son, the largest premises in the North of England, and. one of the few places in the kingdom supplied with a water capable of producing a first-class Pale Ale.

The new premises were completed in 1855, from the designs of Mr. Borson. They are of great extent, covering several acres, and are admirably suited to the purposes for which they were erected. The large yard is filled with thousands of casks, which show how much the public appreciate the delicious beverage, which has such strengthening and healthful properties. The Malt House is very spacious, and will contain four thousand quarters. A steam-engine of forty-horse power facilitates the operations of the workmen. We observed during our visit, that " fermenting stones" were used, a great improvement upon the "wooden squares." The cellars are capable of containing 10,000 barrels of beer; and to show the magnitude of this business, even these are insufficient for the purpose, and other premises are rented.

As a proof of the excellence of the celebrated India Pale Ales, Bitter Beer, &c., of this firm, we give a copy of a report on the East India Pale Ales, Bitter Beer, etc., by Dr. Sheridan Muspratt, F.E.S.E., M.E.I.A., F.C.S., Membre de la Societe d'Encouragement et de l'Academie Nationale de France, etc.:—

"Messes. J. Tetley and Son. Gentlemen,—Having undertaken, at your request, an inquiry into the purity and excellence of your Ales, I beg to submit the results I have obtained.

"It is well known that good Ale cannot be brewed with water unadapted for the purpose. Analysis has before shown that the water of your Brewery contains a very large quantity of earthy carbonates; consequently non-professional and inexperienced men would at once consider it ill adapted for Brewers.

"This, however, is not the case; for in the course of boiling, the excess of carbonic acid in the water, by which the earthy carbonates are dissolved, is expelled, and these salts are precipitated: further, the phosphates of soda and potassa present in malt decompose the sulphate of lime, giving rise to soluble sulphates. By this means the hard water becomes soft, and is well suited for extracting in the manufacture of Bitter Ale. When the earthy carbonates are precipitated from the water used by you, it is much better suited for brewing than even the Burton water, which contains nearly twenty grains per gallon of sulphate of lime"

The following analysis will afford the reader the most convincing proofs of the excellence of Tetley's beer.


Amount of Ingredients in the Imperial Gallon, represented in Grains.
Carbonate of Lime  } 19.78
Carbonate of Magnesia 
Carbonate of Protoxide of Iron  0.93
Sulphate of Lime 4.97
Sulphate of Soda  13.09
Sulphate of Magnesia  9.78
Chloride of Sodium  7.11
Chloride of Magnesium  4.74
Loss  1.72
Total amount of fixed Matter  62.07

Analysis Of The Ales Of Messes. Joshua Tetley and Son, Leeds.

"The qualities of your Ale depend principally upon the care exercised in the selection of the best kind of hops and malt, and upon the skill exhibited in conducting the processes of mashing and fermentation.

"From the qualitative experiments I have made upon your Ales, I am positive that they are manufactured under scientific surveillance, and I cannot discover in them any other ingredient but that procurable from malt, hops, and water—a great recommendation in this age of adulteration.

"I have used your Beers at my table, and consider them in every respect equal to any I have analysed.

"Your East India Pale Ale is an excellent tonic, and from the absence of all deleterious ingredients, its influence upon the system will prove beneficial. My opinion of the great value of your Ales, in a dietetic and remedial point of view, is entirely confirmed by my results. It is to be attributed to the pure extract of hops and malt which the beer contains.

"The Ale is very well fermented, and made from the best and most wholesome ingredients, and well adapted as a beverage to those in health, and calculated to strengthen and invigorate the system in hot climates.

"From my Report you will perceive that neither strychnine nor quassia are before alluded to. The first is never employed to impart bitterness to Ale, as it is a violent poison, and, to my mind, the bare mention of its being used is a sufficient refutation of the charge. "I am, Gentlemen, yours respectfully,

"Sheridan Muspratt, Professor of Chemistry.
"College of Chemistry, Liverpool. July 1st, 1852."

That the consumers of the mild Ales and Porters of Messrs. Tetley and Son might be confirmed in the favourable opinion they have formed, these Beers have also been submitted to analysis, and the following report has been received :—

"Liverpool, July 28th, 1852.

"Messrs. J. Tetley and Son. Gentlemen, — I herewith send you the results after a thorough analysis of each of the seven samples of Ale and Porter :—

"The mild Ales, No. 1 and No. 2, are particularly fine as to flavour, and the amount of carbonic acid they contain renders them extremely pleasant and grateful to the palate. Although this is a bad season of the year, on account of the excessive heat, to transmit the Ales to any distance, still they do not appear to have suffered, as I find them to be in excellent condition. Some of them are of course not equal to your finer Ales, but this is readily accounted for by the difference in price. The sample of Stout forwarded yields, on analysis, only extracts of malt and hops, and its moderately bitter taste and peculiar aromatic flavour, collaterally with its tonic properties, will make it keenly relished by those accustomed to its use.

"I opine that if all the Porter sold is equal to your sample, it is, when drunk in moderation, a most wholesome beverage, as it, like beer, combines in some measure the virtues of water, wine, and food; for it quenches thirst, stimulates, cheers, and invigorates.

"It is very satisfactory to me, who have had so much cause to complain of adulterated articles, to find that beverages of such general consumption as your Beer and Stout, are entirely free from every kind of impurity; and the quantity of aromatic anodyne bitter derived from hops contained in them, tends to save the tone and strength of the stomach, and contributes to the restoration of the health of that organ when in a prostrate state, either from weakness or debility.
Muspratt, Professor of Chemistry."
"The official illustrated guide to the North-western railway" by George Measom, 1849, pages 413 - 417.
Now there's something new. An analysis of Tetley's brewing water. Very handy. Especially as its said to be good for brewing Pale Ale. That's quite a claim of Professor Muspratt that it's better even than Burton water for brewing Bitter. In particular, he identifies the lower calcium sulphate content of Tetley's water as an advantage.  Let's see how Tetley's and Allsopp's water compare. (The Allsopp analysis is taken from the same book.)

Amount of Ingredients in the Imperial Gallon, represented in Grains.
Tetley Allsopp
Carbonate of Lime  } 19.78 15.51
Carbonate of Magnesia  1.7
Carbonate of Protoxide of Iron 0.93
Sulphate of Lime 4.97 18.96
Sulphate of Soda  13.09
Sulphate of Magnesia  9.78 9.95
Chloride of Sodium  7.11 10.12
Chloride of Magnesium  4.74
Sulphate of potassa 7.65
Carbonate of iron 0.6
Silicic acid 0.79
Loss  1.72
Total amount of fixed Matter 62.07

The sulphate of lime content is indeed the big difference between the two.

Funny how Tetley's is singled out as a producer to India Pale Ale. I can remember locals telling me that Tetley had been famous for its Mild and that it was the other big Leeds brewery, Melbourne, that had been well known for their Bitter.

Numbered Mild Ales. That's unusual. Outside Burton, at least. And even there numbers 1 and 2 weren't Mild Ales, but Stock Ales. You know what would be great? Getting a look at Tetley's brewing records, if they still exist. I'd love to know what theses beers were really like.

Being the largest brewery in the North isn't quite as impressive as it may sound. Commercial breweries were relatively small in much of the North, including Leeds, due to the large number of publican brewers and extensive domestic brewing.

By "fermenting stones" I assume they mean Yorkshire stone squares. I wonder what "wooden squares" were? A wooden version of the same?

It's a sad day when any brewery closes. When it's one you love, the pain is hard to bear.

1 comment:

StuartP said...

It seems that brewerys always claim to have 'special' water that allows them to brew particularly good beer, with the inference that beer from elsewhere will be less good because others won't have access to the 'special' water.
I guess this bollocks started before the days when water could be analysed and adjusted: back then it would be hard to demonstrate that this claim is bollocks.